Netanyahu 'to seek support on Iran'

Israel's prime minister travels to Egypt on his first official trip abroad.

    Netanyahu has yet to publicly endorse the creation
    of a Palestinian state [AFP]

    But Netanyahu's efforts are likely to be hampered by differences between Israel and Egypt over the peace process, which has been stalled since Israel's massive offensive on the Gaza Strip earlier this year.

    'Security and peace'

    The Israeli prime minister has so far refused to publicly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state, a bedrock principle of international peace efforts to which Israel committed itself under the 2003 "roadmap".

    He has instead insisted that the Palestinian economy improve before substantive talks on other issues.

    Egypt has urged Netanyahu to clarify his stance on the two-state principle.

    The creation of a Palestinian state constitutes "the primary aim of all the efforts exerted and the real guarantee for security and peace in the region," Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, said last week.

    Israeli-Egypt ties have also been strained by Netanyahu's choice of foreign minister - Avigdor Lieberman, a nationalist who last year said Mubarak could "go to hell" if he continued to refuse to visit Israel.

    Lieberman is not due to accompany Netanyahu on his trip to Sharm el-Sheikh, officials said.

    Diplomatic moves

    Netanyahu's trip to Egypt comes a week before he is due to meet Barack Obama, the US president, in Washington and to finally unveil his policy toward the Middle East peace process.

    The Israeli leader may also meet King Abdullah II, the Jordanian monarch, on Wednesday, officials said.

    In an interview with the UK's The Times newspaper, Abdullah said that further delays to peace talks would lead to the world being "sucked into another conflict".

    "If there are no clear signals and no clear directives to all of us, there will be a feeling that this is just another American government that is going to let us all down," he was quoted as saying.

    "Just because there is a right-wing government in Israel does not mean that we should chuck in the towel."

    The Times said the king had concieved the plan with Obama in Washington in April and that details are likely to be thrashed out this month, including during Obama's meeting with Netanyahu.

    Abdullah himself heads to Syria on Monday and is expected to discuss the plan with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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